In recent years, convenience foods have become extremely popular due to rapid urbanization, higher employment rates and busier lifestyles. Despite Covid-19 and its ongoing impact on consumer trends, the demand for ready-made meals in supermarkets has not slowed.
"People continue to seek healthier alternatives to junk food and a cheaper substitute for ordering restaurant food without having to prepare and cook their own food," said Anand Surujpal, general manager of Marketing and Innovation at Patties Foods.
Today's buyers are spoiled for choice, as ready-made meals are available throughout the store, whether frozen, chilled or served hot from the deli.
According to Karen Marshall, marketing manager at McCain Foods ANZ, Covid has had a significant impact on the frozen food category as consumer habits shifted towards home work.
"The healthy meal segment has suffered as consumers turned to comfort meals," she says.
The increased fear of many shoppers is leading to less time in-store, which makes searching for categories and identifying NPDs challenging, she adds.
Delivery services, whether from restaurants or meal set providers, have also transformed the consumer experience of convenient meals.
“It's an adventure where you can choose your own food, everything is available at the push of a button,” says Berger Ingredients founder and CEO Diem Fuggersberger.
“You can have your meals delivered to your home or work ready-to-eat, or (you can) have the experience of remaking your favorite dish in simple steps from your own kitchen. However, this convenience comes with additional service fees, delivery charges and surcharges, which means that for many it is still viewed as a luxury or indulgence and people cannot afford it every day. "
Cale & Daughters co-founder, Cale Drouin, says meal delivery services have increased competition in the ready-made meal space.
“As competition has increased, the customer base has decreased due to longer lockdowns and the fact that people have less need for convenience-based meals,” he says. "In order to survive the competition, ready-made meals from the store have to be more attractive than ever."
Read more about trends and developments in the ready-made meals category in the current issue of Retail World.